Curcumin: The Spice of Life!

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Is it coincidental that India’s population maintains low rates of colorectal and other cancers when compared to the US? Given what we are finding out about Curcumin, an obvious “super spice” and its widespread consumption by the Indian people, probably not.

comparison table of cancer rates

Source: Sinha R, Anderson DE,* McDonald SS,* Greenwald P “Cancer Risk and Diet in India” J Postgrad Med 2003;49:222-228

Curcumin is a staple in the Indian diet, found in many of their popular dishes, and one that we here in the US, should be sprinkling in ours. A member of the ginger family, Curcumin is a yellow-orange colored substance that comes from the stems of the turmeric plant. Turmeric, which is also known as Indian saffron, is a spice used primarily in Indian and Asian cuisine. It is comprised of three natural phenols, one of which is curcumin. What was once a spice banished to the back of our cupboards in the West, may be finding its way up the spice ladder, with its large offering of health benefits for the human body.Curcumin

Curcumin Packs A Powerful Kick

Although it’s been used for centuries in Asian medicine, only very recently has curcumin been gaining attention in the West. Curcumin may help to ward off a wide variety of conditions including cancer by means of the powerful antioxidant properties it bears. After consumption, curcumin gets to work, actively seeking out free radicals in the body, and suppressing the inflammatory cytokines((Greek ”cyto-” = cell; and ”-kinos” =movement) are any of a number of substances that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells, and thus have an effect on other surrounding cells.))

For sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, relief could be found through simple curcumin consumption. Besides a cancer and inflammation conquering machine, curcumin may also be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. But wait, that’s not all. Curcumin showed an amazing ability to ward off obesity, a growing health concern, especially here in the U.S. Through regulation of the body’s metabolism, curcumin was able to break up the fats within laboratory mice during lab testing. Even when the mice were fed a high fat diet, the animals actually lost weight, which included a significant amount of fat. Curcumin, an obvious “super spice” displayed a profound ability to halt the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a cause of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer. New research is being published every day as new studies are concluded.

A Curcumin Cleanse?

Are you looking for a natural and simple way to detoxify your body? Start supplementing with curcumin. You’ll be amazed at the almost immediate results. Curcumin has the unique ability to bind together with toxic heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, minimizing the toxicity levels within your body. Other medical conditions and diseases that curcumin can help prevent, and in some cases maybe even cure include:

  • •Type 2 Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • HIV
  • Viral Infections
  • Upset Stomach
  • Uveitis
  • Scabies
  • Colitis
  • *High Cholesterol – Results are astounding!
  • Various types of cancer

*An even more recent study shows the importance of curcumin in preventing cancer in smokers and individuals exposed to second hand smoke.

The Uses of Curcumin in Food

Used mostly as a natural food coloring, curcumin is virtually tasteless and is often found in margarine, cheese, mustard, soft drinks and curry powder. Though tasteless when consumed by itself, curcumin has the culinary magic of bringing out or enhancing flavor in the sauces and dressings it’s used in. While many love the aromatic flavor produced by adding turmeric to their food, an equal amount find it unpleasant. My suggestion is to experiment with it in small amounts at first, if it’s not a taste that you enjoy; there are other ways to include it in your diet through supplements.

Get Cooking with Curcumin

Try mixing it with some olive oil and vinegar for a tangy salad dressing or add it to yogurt for a creamy sauce to accompany meat and vegetables. Curcumin pairs nicely with most vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and cauliflower. For a simple and healthy meal, wash and cut your favorite vegetables into large chunks. After drizzling with olive oil, sprinkle generous amounts of curcumin, garlic, onion and black pepper powder over them. Cover and roast in the oven at 350-degrees for an hour or until tender.

Tip: For optimal health benefits, I suggest consuming curcumin and black pepper together. This helps curcumin to be more easily absorbed by the body increasing the bioavailability by 1,000 times its normal rate.

If you are not currently consuming this miracle spice I recommend you start. Supplements, containing various amounts of curcumin, are readily available. While they’re generally safe to consume, diarrhea and nausea can occur in some cases. If you are one of those who experience stomach upset, try lowering the recommended dosage and increasing it slowly. Moderation is key when consuming any supplement for the first time. Negative reactions can be avoided most often with this practice. Pregnant women should avoid using curcumin supplements, and since they can increase bleeding, they shouldn’t be taken within two weeks of undergoing surgery. Stay tuned for more information on curcumin as additional studies are currently underway.

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